Essay On Diomedes, The True Hero Of Homer’s Iliad

1552 words - 6 pages

Diomedes, the True Hero of The Iliad

In The Iliad, written in a 3rd person omniscient point of view, Homer gives a very serious account of the tenth and last year of the Trojan War.  It was in Homer's account that the very idea of becoming a legendary hero reached its pinnacle; the choice of the better hero was not decided on the events they participated in, but rather by their characteristics.  The ancient Greeks had strict criteria for individuals to follow if they were to be seen as heroes. Above all, a man needed to be a skilled warrior, but this was not the only requirement. To be a hero, a warrior had to respect authority, both governmental and religious. The Greeks gave heroes no room for pride. These men were to be modest, not only giving credit to their culture and the gods for any great deeds they had done, but also accepting everything that happened as Fate, not scenarios they had created for themselves. In other words, they did not make themselves what they were; rather, they had been predestined to become it. The final requirement of being a hero was coolness. Heroes were not permitted to be blinded by rage or have mood swings. In The Iliad, two Greeks are presented to the reader as heroes. They are Achilles and Diomedes. Although they are both good contenders for the title of hero, Diomedes is by far the better of the two. Diomedes is one of the finest and bravest of the Greek warriors. He is respectful to all authority figures and has little or no pride. Always wise and reasonable, he may be the vision of the perfect nobleman.

Both Achilles and Diomedes easily meet the first requirement, that a hero must have skill on the battlefield. Throughout The Iliad, Homer tells of their incredible (though usually god-aided) feats during the many battles of the Trojan War. Perhaps the greatest example of Achilles' fighting skill is when he fights with and kills Hector, the greatest of the Trojan warriors (260-261). However, this fight may have never happened if Athena had not disguised herself as one of Hector's brothers and convinced him to fight (260). That was not enough though, as Athena then helped Achilles win the fight (260-261). This seems to be the case with all of Achilles' battles. A god, goddess, or gods help him in battle by strengthening and encouraging him and his men, or they rally a Trojan army into entering a futile final battle. Diomedes is also guilty of receiving help from the gods. After praying for Athena's aid, Diomedes proceeds to not only slay Pandaros (who wounded him earlier) and many other Trojans, but also wound Aeneas in his hip and his mother Aphrodite in her hand (60-64). Later on in the same battle, Diomedes thrusts his spear through the belly of Ares, also done with the help of Athena (73). Another example of Diomedes skill comes when he and Odysseus spy on the Trojan camp. Diomedes goes ahead of Odysseus and strikes down so many Trojans that the ground was reddened with blood (124). Even before...

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